While slow soaking my tomatoes…

As I sat on my small porch that has been taken over by my tomatoes, herbs, lettuce and broccoli (my attempt at a gardening in an apartment), I was slow soaking my tomatoes (the best way to water them), and reading White Noise (while underlining and making notes in what I forgot was a library book).  I finished Chapter Six and remember thinking – that it was probably the most post-modern thing I’ve come across.  But then I had to think about why.  And here’s what I’ve come up with…

In the conversation about rain between Heinrich and Jack, Heinrich continually response with questions to the questions that his father puts forth.  “What truth does he want?  What good is my truth?  Is there such a thing as now?  How do I know that what you call rain is really rain?  What is rain anyway?”  It is a constant challenge to the power of language, symbolism,  and the weight of an idea if looked at as a subjective thought and not a concrete reality.  But I don’t think that captures all of it.  I think it is part of understanding that the not knowing, the “only guessing” is postmodern in and of itself.  It is in part why Huyssen took a “different route” in his essay “Mapping the Postmodern” and did “not attempt here to define what postmodern is,”  and instead decided to discuss the characteristics of the phases of postmoderism because of the limitations of language.  He concluded that it is moving beyond the binaries and into the tension between them (much like we discussed in class), that there is a breakdown in what is what.  Or maybe the conversation is more easily linked to the discussion of Plato’s “simulacrum” in the Jameson essay as an example of a “culture of the simulacrum (that) comes to life in a society where exchange value has been generalized to the point at which the very memory of use value is effaced.”  Heinrich voices this idea in a way that captures some what I’ve come in the last week to think of as post-modern.  A kind of blurred feeling out of gray areas, and an expression of only guessing.


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2 thoughts on “While slow soaking my tomatoes…”


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    Professor Sample says:

    I’m glad you’re linking the “is it raining” scene in White Noise to some of the critical reading. I want to talk on Tuesday about how this scene might also relate to the “end of metanarratives” aspect of postmodernism, as Lyotard describes it (mentioned in the introduction to the Pomo CoNo book).

    Heinrich seems to represent (at least in this scene) an extreme version of relativism — another hallmark, philosophically-speaking, of postmodernism. Where do you think DeLillo comes down on all of this?


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    azwanzi1 says:

    I think that he consciously plays up the relativism both in the character of Heinrich, especially in that scene, but also in the wealth of information that is so constantly commented on throughout the story.  It isn’t just a character quirk that Denise is attached to the Physicians’ Desk Reference, or a household trait that the TV blares in the background, so that the reader gets some blurb of information.  The amount of information, or data, is what contributes to the relativism in the story.  I don’t know where DeLillo comes down on it all – if he’s your “that’s true for you, but not for me” sort of guy or otherwise, but he uses it well to illustrate the kind of society that this story is set in. (If that makes sense.)

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